In one of the early episodes of our pre-season video series (see above), Cats star Cameron Guthrie revealed that he is likely to spend more time in the backline than the midfield in 2016.
Guthrie’s comments have inspired our staff writers, Adam McNicol and Mitch Broughton, to ponder whether the backline is indeed the best spot for him to line up on a regular basis.
YES – Mitch Broughton
At the age of 23 and entering his fifth AFL season, Cameron Guthrie is fast becoming one of Geelong’s most exciting and pure footballers.
He pieced together a superb breakout season through 2015 playing predominantly midfield minutes – yet with an influx of centre-square fire power over the off-season, Guthrie has been touted for more time down back.
In my opinion, it’s a good call.
Chris Scott and the coaching staff obviously have their own reasons for pushing the pacey midfielder into defence and given they’ve been able to bring Guthrie this far, I see no reason to doubt their methods.
But for mine I can see Guthrie’s role in defence as one of attack. A contradiction you might say, but he does loom as a genuine point of difference in the Cats back six – with his mix of raw speed and precision skill.
What better combination to have coming out of defence?
A player like Guthrie would also provide a reliable release option for older heads such as Enright, Mackie and Lonergan whilst allowing an offensive-minded young defender like Jackson Thurlow to focus first and foremost on beating his man.
The task of turning defence into attack then falls on the shoulders of the former Calder Cannon.
Furthermore, Guthrie has already demonstrated his defensive abilities through the embryonic stages of his career. He will be able to roll the dice without being a liability to a backman’s primary objective – blanketing his opponent.
That’s not to say Guthrie wouldn’t see midfield minutes either. The modern game demands versatility and Cameron Guthrie has that in spades.
He can make himself at home in defence and still enjoy regular stints in the midfield, just as midfielders Patrick Dangerfield and Josh Caddy will see increased time up forward.
NO – Adam McNicol
Okay, so the arrival of Patrick Dangerfield has created a glut of midfielders at the mighty Cats, and something has to give.
But in my estimation, Cameron Guthrie is in the best four or five mids at the club.
With his sure hands and ever-expanding upper body, I see him as a player who can help put a stop to our team’s habit of being flogged around the clearances.
Sure, I’m happy to grant him an occasion stint down back helping out the small-medium defenders, like he did with great effect early in his career and after Corey Enright went down in the 2013 finals series.
But given ‘Boris’ is going around again and will do a fine job of holding the backline together, I see no reason why Guthrie can’t line up in the middle of the park most of the time.
Not only can he win his own ball, he is also very good at pushing forward and kicking goals.
I want the Cats to play an attacking brand of footy, centred around piling on more goals than the opposition, and this is where I think Guthrie’s superb kicking can be very damaging.
Spending too much time worrying about stopping the opposition kicking goals doesn’t excite me.
So put Guthrie in the middle and leave him there.